Monthly Archives: February 2010
I just wrote an article for a new site owned by an online acquaintance of mine. I’d post it here, but the site says they only receive exclusive articles.
I do want you to read it though, since there’s a story behind it.
You can find the article here:
It’s called “Attack ideas, Not people”
I hope you’re having a good day today. I thought I’d share a few things that I wasn’t able to squeeze into my previous letter. A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from an American missionary in Cambodia detailing the life story of a young Cambodian man that has started a church in a remote village. The individual was someone that I taught, and singled out, in last year’s Simply the Story workshop in Cambodia. This young man began ministering to children through stories, and in particular, the God’s Story recording that our team brought with us. Before he knew it, the children started coming to church–and bringing their parents! It’s a real pleasure being a part of training someone that takes the training and uses it to win souls to Christ! I know that there were many other influences that contributed to this young man’s success, but I’m grateful to be one of those influences. As the Apostle Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (I Corinthians 3:6).
Secondly, I just received a report from Jean Pierre, our disciple in Senegal. As you may remember, a few months ago I, along with a colleague, taught two workshops in Senegal, one in Ziguinshor and one in Dakar. I’ve just been told that one of the pastors that we trained has used our training and, again, along with the God’s Story recording, has won several people among the Serer tribe to Christ. I’ve been told that there’s a high demand now for the God’s Story film. Jean Pierre asked that we send 15 films to him immediately so that he can distribute them to the pastors.
Lastly, you may recall that back in August of last year I sent an e-mail detailing the Muslim attack on the Christian village of Gojra in Pakistan. At least 9 people were killed, over a hundred homes were destroyed, along with several church buildings. I knew that Christians in the U.S. could have an influence on the situation, so I located the general contact e-mail address for the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. I asked our supporters to write to the U.S. embassy informing them that according to our local sources, the rioting was still going on and that the Pakistani government was not doing enough to protect the Christians in Gojra. Some of you responded. Yesterday, I spoke with one of our Pakistani contacts and he informed me that the Pakistani government has since stepped in and started rebuilding the village of Gojra–including the churches! He told me that when he saw my e-mail he put it out on his Face Book page and eventually a lot of people wrote in to the U.S. embassy. He believes that the e-mails were a big factor in persuading the Pakistani government to help the people of Gojra. Again, I don’t presume to say that our e-mails were the only factor in this situation (The New York Times did an outstanding job in covering the situation) but I do believe that they made a difference.
I hope that this encourages you to make a difference wherever you live.
While there is still time,
P.S. To learn more about me and the ministry of Great Commission Society, or to make an online donation, please go to http://www.aarondtaylor.com
Question: Hey, I did have a question for your blog if it hasn’t been addressed before. The questions is about birth control. I was just wondering if you could make a biblical case for or against (or neither?) Christians using standard birth control pills. Do you have any personal convictions about this?
Answer: Thank you for the question. Some Christians will say that God forbids birth control based on His command to Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). I think this is a weak argument though. The question that needs to be asked here is does God intend for all human beings to carry out the mandate to “Be fruitful and multiply” or was this a specific mandate to Adam and Eve? It seems to me that it would make sense for God to give this mandate to the parents of humanity since humanity as we know it was just getting started. Given that the earth is already well populated (some would say overpopulated)it makes very little sense for this commandment to be applied across the board today.
Furthermore, if God did in fact intend for all married couples to procreate without end, then what was the Apostle Paul thinking when He wrote, “But this I say brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they have none” (I Corinthians 7:29)?
Even if you argue that God’s mandate to Adam and Eve extended to the rest of humanity, it still doesn’t follow that birth control is outlawed. God was laying out a general principle here. He never specified how many children a couple should have, and neither does He give a negative command against people limited the number of children they would like to have. Christians make big mistakes when they turn principles into laws. Think about what Jesus said about David eating the show bread in the tabernacle, which wasn’t lawful to eat except for the priests (Mark 2:25-27). Jesus clearly taught that human need takes precedence over the letter of the law. In light of this, I can’t imagine Jesus approving of husbands that put their wives health, and in some cases their lives at risk, because of some legalistic adherence to an ambiguous command.
Having said that, I also think some people go too far the other way, looking down on couples that have too many children, according to what they think is too many. An old high school friend of mine wrote on her face book that some of her co-workers are criticizing her for considering to have another child (I believe she has three children). I think that should be a decision between her and her husband, not her and her co-workers. As a general rule, I think that couples should plan the amount of children based on what they can reasonably provide and care for. That number is different for everybody. When it comes to gray areas in the Bible, I think that Christians would be wise to remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “Who are you to judge another man’s servant?” (Romans 14:4)
I hope this helps!
Ever since the crash of 2008, I’ve found myself doing a lot of soul searching. At first, like most people, I had no idea what the crash was about. Who caused it? What political party is to blame? And, for Pete’s sake, what in the world is a credit default swap? I still have more questions than answers, but now that I’ve had some time to think, and after reading Jim Wallis’s book Rediscovering Values, I’m reminded of a success seminar I attended a few years back in St. Louis, Missouri.
The stadium event was packed with wannabe millionaires. The line of speakers was nothing short of astounding. Colin Powell, Suze Orman, Steve Forbes, Zig Ziglar, George Foreman, a real estate mogul, a wealthy stock trader, and Peter Lowe–the godfather of success. As impressive as the line of speakers was, it’s the wealthy stock trader that I can’t get out of my mind. To show how easy it is to get rich off the stock market, the man invited a woman from the audience to read a chart designed to aid the would be investor to know when to buy and sell. Whenever there were three green arrows pointing upward, the woman would shout “buy!” When the same stock had three red arrows pointing downward, the woman would shout “sell!” According to the chart, the woman would have made a hefty profit in a short period of time if she had invested real money.
After the wealthy stock trader pitched his course on how to get rich off the stock market, Peter Lowe gave a power point gospel presentation designed to convince the audience of their need for a Savior. The presentation showed clearly that all of us are sinners and that no amount of good works or personal efforts can reconcile sinful people before a holy and righteous God. It also showed that Jesus is the bridge between God and people. Since the event wasn’t billed as a Christian event, there was no altar call that day. But the content of Lowe’s message could have easily been given by Billy Graham. So why am I looking back at the event as something less than Christ-honoring? Ordinarily I’d be thrilled that so many people had a chance to hear the gospel in one sitting. Has my evangelistic zeal diminished over the past few years? I certainly hope not.
Here’s what’s bothering me. What does it say about the state of American Christianity, and the classic evangelical gospel that’s been the standard for decades now, when the message of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins can be inserted into the middle of a how-to-get-rich seminar? K.P. Yohannan in his book “Revolution in World Missions” puts it this way: “Christian magazines, TV shows, and church services often put the spotlight on famous athletes, beauty queens, businessmen, and politicians who ‘make it in this world and have Jesus too!'”
To be fair to Mr. Lowe, the day wasn’t only about getting rich. There were many great speakers talking about worthy topics. Perhaps I’m a little bitter because I did attend the stock trader’s seminar–and paid handsomely for it. Not surprisingly, I didn’t become a wealthy stock trader. I couldn’t find the motivation. Looking back on it, I’m glad I didn’t. At the time it didn’t cross my mind that some of these companies that were mere numbers on a chart could have been either a:) propping up dictators overseas b:) harming the environment c:) paying substandard wages to their employees or d:) exploiting third world farmers.
If there’s anything that the economic crisis has taught us, it’s that economies–and I would add individuals–that base their life blood on speculative financing, absent of actual labor, may gain the world in the short run, but a day of reckoning will eventually come. I wonder what Amos, Isaiah, and Micah would say about a gospel that promises eternal life in the world to come and a life of wealth and “success” in the here and now? More importantly, I wonder what Jesus would say about it?
Below is an e-mail exchange between myself and Anita Miller
Aaron: I’m going over your notes in preparation for the workshop. I’ve come across the “Doubt of Moses” story. You make a point “What kinds of discussions can you have over God making some born with handicaps?” The reference is Exodus 4:11 where God tells Moses:
“Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute? The deaf? The seeing or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?”
You probably know this, but Word of Faith teachers insist that it’s never God’s will for people to be handicapped, let alone born handicapped. They would say that all handicaps are either caused by the devil or are simply the result of life in a sin-cursed earth. They wouldn’t necessarily put the blame on the person or the parents. They would simply say that God wants them healed. They say that a lot of verses in the Old Testament where it appears that God is actively causing something, that what He’s actually doing is permitting it. They say that these are Hebraisms that don’t directly translate into English.
Yet, this story seems to fly in the face of that.
I’ve felt for a while that the above teaching is wrong, but mostly because it just doesn’t set right with my heart. It seems to me that if you’re always insisting that people born with handicaps are supposed to be healed, you’re devaluing them by saying that there’s something wrong with them. But what if our perspective is wrong? What if God sees it totally different? What if what we see as defects are something totally different in God’s eyes? Is it possible that God might create some with handicaps because He sees a higher purpose? (Maybe to teach us humility? Maybe to teach us to be less selfish?) Faith teachers would say absolutely not!
What say you?
Anita: When what we plainly see in the Word clashes with what we are taught, we must make a choice.
I have had to make many alterations in my beliefs as I was teaching through the Bible. Some of what good people taught me I have not justifiable in the Word.
I agree with your observations based on what God said of Himself to Moses. What is “Too young to die?” What is “normal?”
What about us is eternal and what is temporal? What is the “one thing that is necessary?”
Does God heal? Yes! Does God sometimes not heal those who believe for a healing? Yes?
Can we find anywhere is Scripture that Satan has the power to cause people to be born with “defects?”
All the maybes you listed on why people might be born with handicaps could be true, but be sure to note too that trust can only be exercised in times and instances when we do not know the whys. We who teach trust often bend the Word to try to come up with reason why. We have this driving passion to try to know why everything happens. Sometimes God clearly tells us reasons for what happen to us. But there are instances when we do not know the whys. Where is trust?
This passage in 2 Cor 4:15-18 speaks of our physical afflictions as temporary and for our sakes. They also weight the values of the temporal and the eternal.
15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Does this passage only apply to the children born perfect?” What is perfect by the way? Ps 139:13-18
13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
Aaron, we are very shallow sometimes in how we interpret the Word. I agree with your observations and will pray that God will verify HIS meaning to you and that all that is taught by you through the stories will be led by the Holy Spirit.
Aaron: Just a little FYI. The verse in Corinthians that you mentioned. The Word of Faith interpretation is that Paul was talking about persecution there. They say that while it isn’t God’s will for people to suffer sickness and/or physical deformities, some times it is God’s will for people to suffer persecution, and we can’t expect God to keep us from suffering for the faith. So they make a distinction between suffering caused by disease and/or birth defects and suffering caused by persecution. I’m not saying I agree with that. I’m just letting you know.
Anita: That is an familiar manipulation of information. When we see a passage that does not agree with what we have decided to believe, we can either rethink our position or spiritualize the passage or dismiss it by saying, “This does not mean what it seems to say.
For example. 2 Cor 4:16 says “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”
For a person to say, “That passage is not about disease,” but it is about suffering is interesting.
Beliefs Have Consequences was a radio program I used to host. So if we take to position that this outward man perishing is about the suffering from persecution then from 2 Co 4:16 we must also embrace the idea that all believers are persecuted every day. Is that conclusion true?
Also, if we take on the belief that it is God’s will that all diseases should be healed, then only those whose death certificates list as cause of death an accident, murder or that the person died of old age, would be people who died in faith. Actually, for all who die, no matter how old, Doctors must list a physical cause of death. So again, following this idea that God wants all who have physical problems (diseases and handicaps that lead to death) to be healed, means that all people who die would not have died if they had used faith to be healed.
Aaron Taylor has tackled a very important, and difficult, issue in his deeply moving and thought-provoking book, Alone with a Jihadist. Though his book is well researched and contains a wealth of biblical foundation, he writes, not as an observer, but as one who has lived in the midst of the conflict. Don’t be misled by the title. This book truly addresses the very struggles we American Christians face in the current political environment. I see myself as a well informed church leader but Aaron’s book forced me to re-examine several biblical principals. I am indebted to him for making me think about some important issues I would rather avoid. You may not immediately agree with every conclusion, but anyone seeking a biblical world view needs to read what he has to say.
pastor, missionary and author of God’s Brilliant Plan